Mayor attacks Fort Nelson First Nation over LNG summit expulsion

Mayor attacks Fort Nelson First Nation over LNG summit expulsion

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Mayor attacks Fort Nelson First Nation over LNG summit expulsion
Mayor Bill Streeper (image: Youtube)

Northern Rockies Regional Municipality Mayor Bill Streeper has publicly called out the local Fort Nelson First Nation (FNFN) over its repudiation of government officials at a summit on liquefied natural gas (LNG) it held last week.

After learning of the surprise elimination of environmental assessments for most natural gas plants in BC – without aboriginal consultation – FNFN Chief Sharleen Gale expelled government officials from the LNG conference. Before asking industry representatives to follow suit, Gale took a few moments to deliver a strong message that in order for BC’s LNG vision to work, First Nations must be consulted and respected.

[quote]No shale gas development will proceed in FNFN territory until our Nation and our Treaty are respected and our concerns about our land and our waters are addressed.[/quote]

The chief’s decisive actions made headlines across the country, generated a wave of accolades in these pages and other social media, and yielded an uncharacteristically speedy and deferential response from government. Within hours, Environment Minister Mary Polak issued a mea culpa, recanting the proposed regulatory changes. “Our government apologizes for failing to discuss the amendment with First Nations prior to its approval,” stated Polak.

“That is why we will rescind the amendment…until we have undertaken discussions with First Nations.”

Yet Mayor Streeper, who has long ties to the shale gas industry, doesn’t share the government’s contrition and agreement with FNFN’s position. In an open letter castigating his aboriginal neighbours in Fort Nelson, Streeper called the expulsion a “knee-jerk” reaction that constituted “discriminatory exploitation”.

“We’re a one-industry town,” noted Streeper, who apologized to the provincial government on behalf of his community. Underscoring his perceived urgency of developing the industry at all costs, the exasperated mayor stated:

[quote]If LNG fails, this town will fail.

[/quote]

Yet, at no point did Chief Gale reject the industry outright; rather she highlighted her community’s concern with the government’s secretive legislative changes and emphasized that in order for the industry to proceed, it must address a number of key environmental concerns:

[quote]The FNFN is not against development but these projects must be consistent with our values and have respect for the land…First Nation people are the governments of their territories and will make decisions going forward on these projects.[/quote]

As we have noted in these pages before, FNFN is far from the only aboriginal community expressing concern with the streamlined manner in which the industry is being pushed forward.

Recent changes to the Parks Act in order to facilitate pipeline construction have also provoked widespread public outrage, with well over 100,000 citizens signing a petition against the legislation.

Meanwhile, even the Clark government’s own environment ministry staff are cautioning that the LNG industry would have serious climate implications.

To Streeper, though, there is no room for sober thought, dialogue or delay, imploring in his letter, “Let’s get it done.”

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About Damien Gillis

Damien Gillis is a Vancouver-based documentary filmmaker with a focus on environmental and social justice issues - especially relating to water, energy, and saving Canada's wild salmon - working with many environmental organizations in BC and around the world. He is the co-founder, along with Rafe Mair, of The Common Sense Canadian, and a board member of both the BC Environmental Network and the Haig-Brown Institute.

59 thoughts on “Mayor attacks Fort Nelson First Nation over LNG summit expulsion

  1. First of all… notice i used my real name and am not hiding from my opionions, been a Fort Nelson resident for 31 years… second there already exists all the infrastructure needed to transmit any amount of crude or LNG anyware in north central or south amarica… it just will move in less direct routes in older pipe or by rail, oil ajd gas outfits want to build these new pipelines because they are more direct routes and are built using plastic liners that have a 100 year shelf life as aposted to the pipes that are already transmitting the oil and gas you think u are stopping that are going to be rendered useless soon from production wear and tear… third, Read these three articals and u will know why the keystone xl and may others are getting stone walled!

    http://www.nationalobserver.com/2015/11/12/news/canadian-oil-trains-us-reach-staggering-levels

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2012-01-23/buffett-s-burlington-northern-among-winners-in-obama-rejection-of-pipeline

    http://m.dailykos.com/story/2012/7/31/1115402/-Warren-Buffet-s-1-Billion-Dollar-Campaign-Contribution

    That should clear things up a bit for anyone what took the time to read them… it has nothing to do with the environment!

  2. It is so funny you should say that. You say spend a day with the Mayor. Well then spend a day with a trapper. They still exist and still live out there, Look at the three elderly woman that live at Mile 442.

  3. I agree with Fortunate that Councilor Elingski mouths off too much on her facebook page. This is very unprofessional These comments are seen by all her facebook friends and have showed up on mine because of mutual friends. She also comments on Fort Nelson Buy and Sell and Rants and Raves. As a public figure I (and several people agree with me) think she should keep her personal feelings to herself. She is a leader in this community and when the women of this town see her comments they follow her whether they agree with her or not. There are a lot of women in this town who are not too involved in politics or other issues but when they see that Councilor Elinski says it, then they think it has to be right. She influences a lot of people
    with her comments and a lot of them are down right rude. She did the same thing a couple of months ago when a young lady made comments about the way stray animals were being put down. I’m not saying that the women in Fort Nelson can’t make up their own minds but I am saying that many of them are young and vulnerable and latch on to her every word. Councilor Elinkski should keep her negativity to herself or the board room. Members of our council should act in a more professional manner and not be engaging in hurtful gossip on facebook.

    Kris, I doubt very much Mayor Streeper donates all his money to the new senior complex but if he does I’m sure it’s a big tax write off for him. I think he and all the people should start thinking about the future of our next generation. Take the time to do some of your own research and find out for yourself just how harmful fracking and the process of shale gas is. It might provide money and jobs today but it will be of little use if there is no drinking water tomorrow. I commend the Chief of FNFN for taking a stand and doing what had to be done.

    1. Really??!! Just a small suggestion…maybe all you right fighters who are hating should spend a day in the shoes of the mayor or council!! I’m sure their jobs are not easy (not to mention thankless)!! No one ever praises ALL the good they do in this community, but watch out, when people don’t agree on something, they have no problem slamming them! It is rather disgraceful and has left a bad taste in this community members mouth.

      1. Really? Spend a night, day, or a week out on a trapline and see how hard life is. People still live in the bush. Like Mile 442 and the mile 317 and the Liard Hway.

    2. Your words mean bugger all when you are to chicken shit to post your real full name. If you have to hide when you spew from the mouth then you are nothing.

  4. Mr. Reality. Your name does not live up to the pure inaccuracies of your rant. Mayor Streeper has more knowledge and understanding of the industry (over 30years) that this town relays on than you and ten of your friends have combined. He knows the business end, he knows the working in -40 whiteout blizzard end of it, and all parts in between. Check your facts before publicly making a fool out of yourself..

  5. Dan, if every pro lng person on here is an idiot and just call names. Perhaps you should read your old post, where you start throwing out name calling. If i were going to pretend to be you and sound smarter than i really am i would call you a casuist and hubristic. Or maybe you want some stats to back this up? You’re an idiot, thats a fact. Also whoever said that tourism doesnt pollute!? Are you intentionally trying to be thick? So tourist don’t burn fuel and produce waste!? God! All the idiots on here, including the author, who believe lng is evil and not worth it to BC. Please post you address so i can send you contraceptives and you can remove yourselves from the gene pool for the sake of the human race!

    1. Can you please give us some stats comparing projected LNG extraction, liquifying, shipping and final combustion with the trucks and cars you keep bringing up?

      1. Scotty, I’m so glad you asked that question because that’s a comment that has been going around FN way too much. Apparently because The Chief wants more environmental control on LNG, people seem to think she shouldn’t drive a vehicle. We don’t have much choice but to drive a vehicle if we want to get from point A to point B but how can you compare driving a truck to the damage that fracking does? I think it is probably some of the most uneducated and stupid comments that I have heard yet. Thanks again for the intelligent question.

  6. The reality is even if these projects go ahead gas from the far north east (Horn, Liard, Cordova) will never make it to market. The area around Fort St John already has a deeply interconnected pipeline network with the Western Albertan plays. No company in their right mind would ship the gas over 500km, eating added transmission costs, when they can move the gas from Alberta which is much closer and of a way less distance. Even the Alberta government is saying this. Its all about costs.

    Streeper is a prime example of so many people up here in the Peace Region. He knows nothing of the industry he relies on and resorts to good old bully tactics. His reputation and rap sheet is a mile long and is last on the list of quality mayors in this province.

    Fort Nelson is a one industry town and must diversify OR DIE. Tumbler Ridge is experiencing this problem right now with the Walter Energy mine closures and how many one pony towns dealt with this in BC during the downturn in the forest industry?

    Fort Nelson must diversify their economy or turn into well…….Williams Lake, Quesnel, Tumbler Ridge, Port Alberni, Powell River……the list goes on!

    LNG and its benefits will never be felt in Fort Nelson purely because of geography. In the meantime, IF these LNG projects go ahead the companies will start sourcing their gas in the coal bed methane in the Nechako and off shore gas in Hecate Straight. This further decreases transmission costs. Wake up people!

    Oil and gas companies do not care about you, your town, your region or your province. They care about $$$ only and will pull out of areas in a heartbeat, Fort Nelson is the first place in BC this will occur.

    Thank our government for companies to be able to write off investments, oil and gas holding in the Horn, Liard and Cordova will be just that – write offs.

    Mr. R.

  7. Please Dan. Explain to us all the tourism possibilities in Fort Nelson. Please show us the amount of revenue ft Nelson brings in tourism. Or Else get with the program man. Knowing where fort Nelson would probably be a good start for you. Then maybe try throwing out facts that pertain to the real issue at hand. Comparing tourism in Fort Nelson to the oil and has industry is ridiculous.

  8. I grew up in Fort Nelson. I grew up with many of the people in that video. I still own land just outside of Fort Nelson. With the collapse of the forestry industry Fort Nelson needs something else, but I believe that the Mayor Bill Streeper is not interested in promoting Fort Nelson, the NRRD or the Fort Nelson First Nation. This mayor, and this current town council are not looking at the bigger picture, they are not trying to maintain longterm growth for the community, they are not attempting to benefit the people that reside in the town and the regional district, including those peoples of the Fort Nelson First Nation. I believe and support the Fort Nelson First Nation peoples. I stand beside them in their battle to have their beliefs and values and needs met. Mayor Streeper is a bully, and his sheepish tactics are only those of a bully. I challenge him to step up and make that land, the north eastern corridor a better place than when he started as mayor.

  9. Mayor Streepet does live in Fort Nelson. his family has been here for many many years and is well rooted in the commuinty. There seems to be more mudslinging than debate in these posts. The person wrote the original story also didnt seem to have facts straight and probably should have added the letter that was sent to the media for all to read.

    1. Donna, Mayor Streeper’s letter is accurately referred to as an “open letter”, which means that it was “sent to the media for all to read.” There is nothing disingenuous or inaccurate in my representation of the letter.

  10. And then there is Dan. A hipocryte all in himself. Calling names as well. Trying to use big words acting all smart. As if to intimidate. To bad you’re the hypocrite we all make mention of. I don’t hear or see you in the meetings regarding this issue Dan.

  11. Reading this thread presents an interesting observation;

    On one side of the debate we have the rational thoughts and opinions of British Columbians who present arguments and some facts against LNG development for use outside of BC.

    On the other side we have the pro-LNG folks who, name call, stereotype, and pigeon-hole, anyone who does not agree with their point of view.

    In EVERY SINGLE debate I have observed in any online publication it is the same. The non LNG side presents rational thought and the pro LNG side presents juvenile posturing.

    All the way from pee wee harper down to completely insignificant streeper and his little club of sycophants in small town BC.

    Geezus get a hold of yourselves, grow up and act like the adults you claim to be.

  12. People posting these comments are obviously not from this community nor know the mayor! All businesses here directly and inderectly depend on this industry. As well the mayor and his family are huge assets, I am told he donates his entire wage to support the society building a seniors assisted living complex. As a member of the community sure seems like he has everyone’s best interest in mind!

  13. Listen you tree hugging babies. Go eat your tofu and Granola. Natural gas is safe and clean energy. You dont like it then move. F O RC’s

    1. Problem with climate change is it’s tough to escape, no matter where you move, Joe…And I don’t touch tofu today – too much GMO soy 😉

    2. Personally I think tofu tastes like one month old milk left on the counter.
      And Granola, well lets just say sugar coated wood chips are its close inbred cousin….
      Anywho.
      For anyone to think that pumping fracking hydraulic fluid deep into the ground wont be a major invironmental issue over the next 10 years is just stubbornly naive.
      But enjoy having your drinking water trucked in from somewhere else when your tap water starts to burn……
      I trust you wont mind if us taxpayers opt out from subsidising the water tankers eh what?

    3. I am a “tree hugger” “leaf licker, “environmentalist” industry defeating” ” lover of earth.” Statistics are not on your side Joe. Fresh water, clean air and land suitable for growing plants and sustaining our lives are on my side. Pick which one you can live without and then talk to me!!

  14. Why does this town have a mayor that does not live in Fort Nelson? So he spends all of his money not in his town or even his country. Hmmmm

  15. I do believe the chief Sharleen Gale is employed by Spectra Energy so is that not the pot calling the kettle black!

  16. What kind of idiot does not support the constituents of its his own community and then infers a racial plot when the political will of the community goals against his economic goals.First Nations are to have a seat at a table…
    Northern BC communitirs need to face their racist roots..

    1. Just for clarity, please google Northern Rockies Regional Municipality. You will find a unique to BC local governing body. While the FNFN are part of our community, they are not constituents. In other words, they do not vote in the local government election. Although given the opportunity, and very unfortunate, the FNFN chose not to become part of the Regional Municipality in 2009.

          1. Its not your choice of words, its the position that NRRM Council has taken on the matter. And that Kim, lies the problem. The municipality has no jurisdiction on this issue. What was the purpose of the letter other than to further divide and separate the community. Has the Premier’s office replied to the correspondence? Have any of the Ministers?

            The racism needs to stop, its tearing our beloved community apart. Comments and endorsements made on your own FB page and other community forums are uncalled for. Why give bigots a platform to vent?

            Statements made on FB by Councillor McKee blow me away. Racism can be expected from the community at large, but by your own council?

            You have the power and community influence to do the right thing. We all have to live here.

  17. I can’t believe the author of this article agrees with this.. what you and your fellow iidiots have obviously overseen is where fort Nelson is even located! What else are you going to do there that makes money… here’s a hint because you obviously need it. NOTHING! It’s surrounded by swamp! I’m sure even the Indians thay are fighting them won’t use the land after industry dries up there.

  18. My oh my, I move how delusional most of you are. My guess is none of you are even from Fort Nelson. If you were, you would know that town relies on this industry. The fact is now that some of the regulations were reduced doesn’t mean companies will come in and burn every tree and dry up every river! Do you even listen to yourselves? Bottom line is she and her fellow chiefs were pissed because they are not getting paid to look over policy… give it up! If she was so concerned about the environment why drive there in a truck and all her chiefs in their trucks and SUV’s! It’s all hypocritical crap! Good news for her now though.. the government caved and will be paying her handsomely

  19. Mayor Streeper – with all due respect – $$$$ money money money grab grab grab – repeat as many times as necessary to fill your bank account til its bursting at the seams then leave Ft Nelson, like every other company that works in this area – long time forever residents that call this “HOME” will do what it takes to make sure OUR water, air, environment is protected – its an important issue for all British Columbians, Canadians and First Nations groups – its a fine balance! Remain calm and focus on the real issue. When you say “Lets get it done!” are you confident industry is ready with solid environment & emergency response plans, Environment Assessments and taking all precautions before they start the flow? Do we have Royalties in place that will benefit all Canadians, do we have trained groups to responds to spills, do we have evacuation processes in place – we’re along ways from Getting it done! So until we are ready – be patient – its only money and there are alot of other places to make money!

  20. Haha. All you haters. I Bet you drive to work in your car or truck. Don’t Complain when you use that gas to heat your house or any other of your daily uses for the oil and gas industry. Let alone know any knowledge or history of what those streepers have done for that town. If you don’t like an oil and gas industry town,go move to Southern bc with the hippies and stop being such hipocrytes band Wagon jumpers. Newsflash. The oil and gas industry isn’t going away. So it might just have to be you wanna be tree huggers that go away. Truth hurts.

    1. Oh you like truth? Here is some truth for you to consider;

      Oil and gas make up 1.8% of the workforce/employment in BC. This means the other 98% is made up of workforce other than the petro industry.

      Here are some government numbers to chew up;

      Tourism in BC is worth about 12 billion per year.

      https://www.go2hr.ca/bc-tourism-industry/industry-overview/value-tourism-bc

      Total Crown revenue collected from oil and gas royalties, sales of gas rights, fees and rentals was $2.14 billion.

      http://www.empr.gov.bc.ca/OG/oilandgas/Pages/default.aspx

      Tourism brings money into the province without depleting resources or polluting. Streeper should get his priorities straight.

  21. I heard this Mayor lives in Costa Rica and only comes back for meetings, and the Mayor and his son’s own half the town.So all they see is money and don’t care about the environment so I had to move and I couldn’t afford to get a house in Fort Nelson

  22. The mayor is the one with his own interests at heart and is also known for opening his mouth and inserting his foot. Turning this town into Fort Mac is not the answer…

  23. Its all a cash grab. The chief just wants a strong bargaining chip. Once that gas company slips a few bucks her way thetune of her song will change lol

    1. Well, of course it’s about money. Nobody has to “slip” anybody anything. That’s exactly what Chief Gale took exception to: BC Liberals doing things in secret when they supposedly had a deal, open and transparent, with the FNFN.

      It never ceases to disgust me that FNs that lost so much and were treated so harshly are made out extortionists for attending to their legitimate self-interest, as modest as their claims are in comparison to the expectations of private corporations.

    2. The Chief and her council have been discussing environmental controls for quite some time now. It wasn’t until they were together in a summit that was suppose to help finalize some steps that the government underminded them and decided to change things. She spent two days with government officials and not once was this mentioned to her or her council. The government officials were sneaky and thought they were pulling a fast one. I agree with what she did. She stood up for her people. Travis, why don’t you tell us what you would have done if you were in that situation.

  24. I commend chief Sharleen Gale on her actions to preserve the land for future generations to use. Industries come and go, that is the way it has always been! There will come a time when this too shall pass and fortunes will be made but at what cost to the land?

  25. So, Mayor Streeper declares “If LNG fails, this town will fail.” And if LNG succeeds? — has the mayor even bothered to investigate the negative costs and consequences, both locally and globally, of LNG?

    Moreover, he seems not to have bothered to explore other economic development options for the town.

    Seems to me that “If Streeper remains mayor, this town will fail” in many ways he hasn’t even contemplated.

    1. Good point, F White. Here’s a little required reading for Mayor Streeper – from expert geoscientist David Hughes and BC’s own Ministry of environment staff:

      “Shale gas expert drills 50,000 holes in BC LNG plans” – BC’s LNG agenda would mean 50,000 new shale gas wells, with enormous water, air quality and climate implications: http://commonsensecanadian.ca/shale-gas-expert-drills-50000-holes-bc-lng-plans/

      “Shale gas, LNG exports and the elephant in the room” – LNG exports threaten to make gas unaffordable for BC families, endager our own energy security: http://commonsensecanadian.ca/shale-gas-lng-exports-elephant-room/

      “Environment Ministry staff warn BC govt about LNG emissions” – Industry’s huge climate implications: http://commonsensecanadian.ca/environment-ministry-staff-warn-bc-govt-lng-emissions/

  26. What a joke . First the BC government will rescind the amendment until they have undertaken discussions with First Nations , then they will reinstate it .

  27. I don’t know why Streeper is so worried about the LNG plant anyway. All the jobs will probably go outside this community and not to locals just as what happened at Horn River. The planes flew them in and the planes flew them out with all their money. Fort Nelson didn’t see any of it. And if Streeper was so concerned about the people of Fort Nelson having jobs, the town would be more supportive to local businesses themselves. We are in the process of major construction for a new pool and very little of the materials have been purchased locally and very few jobs given to local people. Most of it has been awarded out of town. So if you are so worried about supporting your people, Mr. Streeper, remember charity starts at home.

  28. Fort Nothing. That was rude and unnecessary. I agree about housing the temporaries and the town and community having to put up with a lack of respect for the town and people in it from the workers who dorm there…however…the town os not Ugly!! It’s a beautiful piece of the Northern BC that is home and heart to a many wonderful people…and family. Discuss the matter at hand, no need to bash openly.

  29. Wah, Wah, wah. Fu—- wah…..is a saying fallers on the BC coast frequently use to stop the whining. So the mayor is pissed. Wondering why Fort Nelson is a one horse town?? He should look no farther than himself. The only sensible comments to come out of this whole LNG morass have come from Charlene Gale. Now if she were mayor (or Premier) we’d see some real progress.

  30. Only when the last tree has died and the last river poisoned and the last fish caught will you realize that you cannot eat money

    1. Only when the last tree has died and the last river poisoned and the last fish caught will you realize that you cannot eat money

  31. So mayor bill of fort nothing is pissed? Who gives a charbroiled rats ass!
    You’re a one-industry town? Yep, and that’s half your problem right there.
    If the lng wet dream doesn’t cum to fruition, your little backwater won’t fail. It just won’t explode with hundreds of out of town workers (mostly foreign and of the temporary variety) who will disappear as soon as the big bucks dry up. You can be another Tumbler Ridge! Only still uglier.
    But you’ll still have water that supports life and you can actually drink. And your cancer rates won’t be inordinately out of whack.
    It’s the 21st century mayor bill. Wake up and smell the H2S!

  32. As far as I can tell, the BC LNG plan is failing.

    If there is a lot of natural gas in NE BC, better to use it to develop industries in BC. Like converting vehicles to run on natural gas. Or for heating etc. It gets cold here in winter.

    Exporting it as LNG for low royalty rates seems foolish.

    1. Simple, straight forward and sensible. So many of our problems with resource extraction has to do with the rate. I’ve heard Christy say too many times that if we don’t get in on the bottom floor, we’re ruined—then see her turn around and forego royalties that she presumes with “pay off our debt”—in no time at all, like magic.

      Why does the LNG industry fear a prudent rate of development?

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